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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Inconsistent, But Insistent.

In Government on November 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm

It’s been bizarre, as Will Saletan said this week, to see Republican governors in New Jersey, Virginia, and Louisiana chew out their most stubborn citizens for refusing to evacuate, and yet eschew government for asking its citizens to buy health insurance. In either case, whether it is the stranded woman on the roof of her flooded house or the guy who rolls into the ER with a busted pelvis, our common humanity, government, and social contract impels us to try and save them:

“What’s odd about Christie and other Republican governors is that they recognize this principle only when a hurricane hits. When it comes to injury or disease, which we know will strike everyone on this planet, the Republican governors defend your right to ride it out. They oppose any requirement to buy health insurance. If you get sick, the rest of us will shell out to rescue you.

“Hurricanes and health care are different in many ways, of course. Buying health insurance is more expensive than evacuating for a natural disaster. But in both cases, the question is whether you should be allowed to make your own choices when the cost of bailing you out will fall on others. If the state has no business forcing you to buy health insurance, even when the premiums are subsidized, why should it be empowered to order you out of your home in a storm, just to save your skin? Why do Republican governors think they can have it both ways?”

It’s difficult to swallow your pride, and all the more agonizing to have to leave your home. I hope I’m never put in that position. If I was, I’m not sure making the right call would be easy. Lately, I’ve tended to think most people are bad at solving their own problems and better at solving other people’s.

After the poor decision to stay in their inundated town is laid bare for them by events, who knows better than the pig-headed couple who had to be rescued, that maybe the choice to “opt-in” shouldn’t have been left to them?

The Upside Of Big Brother.

In Government, Nature on October 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Sandy swept up the East Coast with reckless abandon. A hybrid hurricane-blizzard superstorm, she gives new meaning to the term crazy spinster. Who could possibly help us get back to our feet after such a destructive force of nature? Turns out it’s actually Big Brother.

Most of the time, we think of Big Brother as an overreaching, freedom-squeezing, privacy-seizing government, à la 1984. That’s the know-it-all older brother, the bullying one. And we should be concerned about him. (For instance, he got into warrantless wiretapping.)

It turns out there’s this other side to him though, one we see again and again in times like these, when a natural disaster threatens huge swaths of the population. That’s the rescuing, resource-sharing, crisis-managing Big Brother. The brother you could talk to about stuff, whose know-how and eagerness to help was a lifesaver, who figured out a way to solve problems when you couldn’t. (I have one, and he’s been both at points, but much more often the latter.)

Unless you’re a person of interest in a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank, that’s the Big Brother you’re more likely to encounter in your lifetime.

And we need that one. Desperately. Otherwise, we won’t be ready for or able to recover after the increasingly common roadblocks from nature and God, forces that Paul Ryan has so dutifully touted this campaign season, albeit for different reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

Biz Prez.

In Government on September 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

One of the chief questions being posed in this year’s presidential campaign is: would a businessman make a good president?

A definitive “Yes” is the central declaration of Mitt Romney’s campaign.

He has “an abiding belief that corporate methods can be applied to the political sphere.” It’s up for debate, but hey, if corporate influence is already being applied to the political sphere (and then some), why not?

This approach is of course to the chagrin of some and pride of others, but it is assuredly what Romney wants to do.

And yet, “The relationship between a nation and its leader is far more complex than the relationship between shareholders and a CEO,” as David Von Drehle said in Time.

I’ve been ruminating on the same question, of what I’ll call the Biz Prez.

The problem at the core of this premise is that the premise itself is overly simplistic and reductive. It assumes that all businessmen and businesswomen are the same, when in fact, there is no such thing as a typical business or businessperson.

(Disclosure: I would have voted for H. Ross Perot in ’92 if I were of age. If someone shares your name, you fall in line, doubly so when he prefers it over his first name. That’s why the tens of Mitts and Baracks in this country have already chosen sides, but perhaps not the Willards and Husseins.)

Business is far too wide of a term. Are we talking finance or food service? Car manufacturing or couture? Health care or hotels? Is there a difference between a 35,000+ person corporation or a small business that’s had great success? These issues have received sparse attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Bummer: Live-Blogging The President’s Remarks.

In Economy, Government, War on August 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

The country’s first-ever credit downgrade. Stocks tanking. 30 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to speak shortly, presumably about all of these topics. So, I’ve come out of hibernation for some impromptu live-blogging. Let’s see if I have anything useful to say…

Behind Schedule | 1:47 p.m. It’s 47 minutes past the announced start time. The Dow appears to have taken this into account and gone down another 47 points. Or is it 147?

The Walk Out | 1:54 p.m. Obama came out in a brisk, solemn walk, and got right to the credit rating issue, pushing back on the S&P hard.

Details | 1:58 p.m. He is speaking to specific things we can do (not many with Congress’ hand-tying) to spur economic growth: payroll tax credits and such. He is pretty stern.

Unusual Wording | 2:00 p.m. As part of a stanza to remind and inspire us of our self-worth, he said that the U.S. has “some of the most productive workers” in the world. He, and other politicians, usually say something along the lines of, “We have the best workers in the world,” so this stuck out for me. Will some Republican presidential candidate criticize him for this? The more important thing is that he is right: it seems to me that while our workers are great, so now are those of the other countries we hear about frequently: India, China, et al.

Let’s Be Army Strong | 2:04 p.m. Obama pivoted from our tough economic situation to the grim news in Afghanistan, honoring the commitment and sacrifice of those we lost. He said that soldiers put aside their differences for the sake of a vital mission, and that we should do the same. He used it is a rallying cry for the country to live up to the best of what they fought for.

That’s It | 2:11 p.m. The comments were over in a fast 10 minutes. There was no real news here it seems, and little concerted effort to lift us up. Perhaps that is part of the problem.

Useless | 5:10 p.m. Re-reading confirms: this is my most useless post ever.

Homo Run.

In Government, Politics on June 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I figured it was a good time to write more than 140 characters because it’s not every day that your home state makes civil rights history.

Y’know, considering that I’m not gay and have no plans to be gay in the future, I’m pretty jazzed about this gay marriage vote in New York state. I might even have jazz hands. Jazz hands!

And yet, I haven’t been invited to any gay weddings or gotten any save-the-dates so far. This is debilitating news because 1) they will be good parties, 2) I imagine they will be “the thing” to be at this summer, and 3) it’s common knowledge in New York that gay men maintain a deep bench of adorable girl friends. (And the gay male endorsement of the straight male friend may just surpass the parental stamp of approval these days.)

Much has been said by now about the overall vote, the well-coordinated, months-long effort to see it come to fruition, and the exuberant celebrations, so I won’t focus much on those aspects.

Instead, I’m going to point out a few things that are awesome, telling, or (if I’m lucky) incisive about this fabulous! legislation.

Let’s start with telling. In the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing the bill into law, there are still nay-sayers out there.

These opponents of same-sex marriage raise flimsy arguments to “justify” their stance. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cents Of Entitlement.

In Economy, Government, Television on January 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The State of the Union address is less than an hour away and there have been hints and suggestions from the president as to what major themes and issues he will highlight. Republicans have been laying down the sand and salt to contain any new spending proposals slipped in by Obama tonight.

I’m taking a year off from live-blogging the event, because I haven’t yet mastered how to juggle that task while engaging in a rigorous drinking game, rife with sips and gulps on buzzwords like “bipartisan” and “competitiveness,” and selected prepositions like “by” and “on.”

Undoubtedly, the horrific shootings in Tucson will be referenced in the speech. Job growth and American perseverance will be a key component, with the unemployment rate stubbornly in the 9%-range, and China, brimming with production, on the brink of becoming a full-fledged global rival.

Other topics that will likely be broached are Social Security, Medicare, the national deficit, and tax policy. The debate around these subjects has increased in the last few months, not only with the November elections, but with the plan unveiled by a bipartisan panel on addressing the debt, commissioned by the White House.

The panel released an extensive set of recommendations to bring our maxed out credit card into balance. I wonder if anyone on it considered redeeming our Membership Rewards points to do this. We must have enough now to at least pay for the flight to China, so that we can then bust open the main cabin door and hose them down with all their gobs of money. If they did mull this one over, they didn’t opt for it. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cast Of Characters: Live-Blogging The New York Gubernatorial Debate.

In Government, Politics on October 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Against my better judgment, I’ve decided to live-blog the New York Gubernatorial Debate happening right now. You can follow along on News 12 or NY1. Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino are being joined by five relatively unknown candidates, which is sure to make for a colorful conversation. For a quick primer on those Unknowns, click here.

And They’re Off | 7:06 p.m. The first question, posed to all candidates, asks what three or four programs you would cut. Paladino was first and gave an incoherent, gruff reply. Cuomo spoke and it was evident he has had some debate prep. The Unknowns may be unpolished, but they each spoke much more clearly than Paladino.

Zing! | 7:15 p.m. Kristin Davis caps her 30-second follow-up on program cuts by saying that additional taxes will make “businesses leave the state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.” I’ll guarantee it was written ahead of time, but that won’t stop it from making the highlight reel.

What’s That Accent? | 7:23 p.m. Howie Hawkins is the Green Party man, but he sounds like Boss Hog. Where in New York do you get that accent? I’ve been around most of the state and it’s new to me. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lowdown Down Under.

In Government, Politics, Travel on September 13, 2010 at 7:05 am

It was looking a bit touch-and-go there, but Australia has solved a parliamentary deadlock after a too close to call election on August 21.

Julia Gillard has found a way forward that will solidify her as the first female prime minister in Australian history. Take that, Hillary! That’s right, she’s broken through the glass floor. (Y’know, since the’yre Down Under, their floor is our ceiling.) Gillard, of the Labor Party, has been prime minister for a few months now, but that ascent came about as a bi-product of parliament taking the boot to her predecessor, more like Ford taking over for Nixon, but without the criminal cover-up. This current election, though close, offers her more legitimacy.

It’s just as well, because it looks like the guy she ran against, Tony Abbott, is not that good at math: his economic projections were off by about $10 billion. Also, his party needs to get better at naming things, such as itself. “Abbott’s Liberal Party represents the conservative spectrum in Australian politics, despite its name.” He also fondly refers to Australia as Up Above. It’s very disorienting. Read the rest of this entry »

Whole Lotta Gov.

In Government, Politics on July 14, 2010 at 9:31 am

The presidency aside, politically, being a governor is the best place to be… right?

You run a big organization, so you can claim executive experience. You get to make important decisions on your own and not be bogged down by opponents digging through your voting record, so you can claim you’re your own man or woman. And best of all, you get to not be in Washington, so you can claim yourself as an outsider to the shady business perpetually presumed to occur there. Plus, there is the awesome linguistic anomaly “gubernatorial” that you get to keep close at hand for when things get dicey. Don’t eff with it.

Republican governors have it even better. They’re supposed to believe in the sanctity and superiority of state government and states’ rights, so they can claim blanket disavowal and widespread disapproval of all manner of DC doings. In keeping with that, they frequently exercise wild abandon provoking or unleashing invective at the Establishment (when that Establishment is Democrats). Texas’ captain of the capitol, Rick Perry, exemplified this most inspiringly in threatening to take his Lone Star and secede last fall. His bold proposition made me long for the days when all Texas governors did was ignore a ringing phone on the day of a lethal injection. Read the rest of this entry »

That’s Just Speechy.

In Government, Media on June 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm

For a year and a half, President Obama has been taking pitches on issues of great scope, effect, and deliberation. As I Bloviator-ed about last year, he’s passed on opportunities to address the nation from the Oval Office. No recession or Stimulus bill address. No health care reform address. No Afghanistan troop escalation address. Whether or not he has a good eye is up for debate. But it’s pretty hard to argue today that he doesn’t have a full count now.

Well, tonight is the moment: mono-a-nation. It’s significant for the tragic damage and repercussions of the BP oil spill but also because it is the first time he is truly and simply, without middlemen or journalists in the way, going to speak to the American people, calmly and up close. Perhaps those topics above were all things visible on the horizon, and he wanted to save the Oval Office address for an unexpected calamity. It really is as if he’s been waiting to cash this in, as if he and his inner circle said a while ago, “There’s a lot of big stuff on our plate, but put this card in the drawer and save pulling it out for the possibility of something unforeseen and massive happening.”

Or there is the possiblity that, perhaps, he’s simply been avoiding it. Take a look at this list of all national addresses in the era of television. Obama is way behind schedule. For all his oratory prowess, he is not well tested in this intimate setting. There are many that perceive his even temperament as detachment, so perhaps there is fear he won’t come across well. By the way, how lucky are we that HDTV wasn’t around during the days of Nixon and LBJ? Those guys would look like an old baseball glove on today’s technology. Read the rest of this entry »